A UNITED STATES law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Google on behalf of parents with children that have spent a lot of money in freemium games through in-app purchases.
The Berger & Montague law firm filed the lawsuit yesterday under the title, Imber-Gluck v. Google Inc., No. 5:14-cv-01070 (N.D. Cal.) in US District Court in Northern California.
The law firm said that the lawsuit was brought on behalf of "all persons in the US who paid for an unauthorized purchase of game currency made by their minor children through the Google Play App Store".
The firm has some history in such cases and said that it pursued a successful lawsuit over in-app purchases against Apple. It added that Apple also had to make $32.5 million settlement in January with the Federal Trade Commission over "similar allegations".
The complaint alleges that the Google Play store includes many games "targeted at children". These games are free and offered at nominal cost, but are "designed to induce purchases". The law firm said that these additional expenditures "facilitate playing the game as it was designed to be played", and frequently cost more than $100.
Google does require that users put in a password before making in-app purchases, but after the user's password is entered, there is a 30 minute window during which further in-app purchases can be made.
"This practice is designed to enable children to purchase in-game currency without parental permission and without having to enter a password," the law firm added, explaining that purchases are then billed direct to the non-child account holder.
"Google has unfairly profited by marketing free or low-cost games to children and by permitting them to easily rack up charges for worthless in-game currency, by failing to incorporate reasonable controls such as simply requiring the entry of a password," said attorney Shanon Carson of Berger & Montague.
"Google is certainly aware that its primary competitor, Apple, has taken steps to end this unfair practice, and Google should do the same."
Google has not responded to our request for comment. Both it and Apple were asked to appear at a European Commission discussion about the in-app purchases menace earlier this month. µ